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Vol. 47 No.

3 May - June 2007

Vol. 47 No. 3 May - June 2007

Vol. 47 No. 3 May - June 2007 The darter's arrow like beak, a foot long neck and its gifted
underwater fishing techniques are all precisely evolved to be most
Editorial Board effective in a given environment. Armed with this javelin like arsenal,
S. Theodore Baskaran Dr. Geeta S. Padate the darter swims underwater with its neck coiled close to its breast,
Dr. A.M.K. Bharos Prof. S. Rangaswami and stealthily approaches a shoal of fish. Fishes also maintain a
Harish R. Bhat K. Mrutumjaya Rao safe distance from their foe and will be under the impression that
Dr. S.P. Bhatnagar A.N. Yellappa Reddy they are beyond the striking distance of the predator. Needless to
Dr. A.K. Chakravarthy Dr. Rajiv Saxena say that they will be unaware of the darter's long neck. Taking
Dr. Ranjan Kumar Das Dr. A.B. Shanbhag advantage of its preys' ignorance, the darter springs its sharp
Dr. S. Devasahayam Arunayan Sharma beak and pierces one of its unsuspecting victims, in a jiffy. The
B.S. Kulkarni S. Sridhar
darter has thus perfected its resource exploitation technique.
Arvind Mishra Dr. Abraham Verghese, FRES (London)
Imagine the situation when all waterfowls were attempting to
Publisher : S. Sridhar optimize their hunting skills. They were interfering with each other
in such a way that it became more profitable for the darter, to
progressively develop a long neck and comfortably exploit the
 Note from the Publisher prey of its choice, where other waterfowls could not compete due
 Extreme adaptation presents a challenge to darters to the limitations in neck length and fishing methods.
Articles One of Charles Darwin's regrets was that he had not paid more
attention to the direct impact of the environment, independent of
 Birds of Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary, by Kumud Natural Selection. This he had confessed as his greatest mistake.
Ghosh Perhaps the darters are frustrated at not being able to cope up
 Studies on the role of partners in Nest Building Activity with the sudden impact of environment, which is being altered
of the W ire Tailed Swallow (Hirundo smithii) in radically by man. In highly polluted, mud-colored waters of our
Kodiyampalayam area, near Pichavaram Mangroves, aquatic ecosystems, the darter’s visibility gets acutely diminished
by S. Sandilyan, K. Thiyagesan and S. Saravanan and consequently its specialized apparatus and ambushing skills
 A day at Sirumalai in Palni Hills, by S. Ashok Kumar become utterly worthless. The darter appears to be vanishing,
 A pilgrimage to Chilika - the ‘Birding Kashi’, by due to the dearth of crystal clear aquatic habitats that determines
A. Shivaprakash, T. Girija and A. Sharath its livelihood and oversees its fishing fortunes. Its predicament
can be likened to a blindfolded apprentice aimlessly darting
Correspondence knives at an artiste in a big top circus. Here is an illustration of
 An ethical perspective and prevention of Bird-flu, how adaptation presents a challenge to a family of birds and
by Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Baljit Singh extreme adaptation presents extreme challenge to a species.
May be some day, we will regret as much as Darwin did, that we
 Prevalence of some mythological beliefs among
blindly destroyed the wetland habitats and pitilessly banished
rural communities of Gujarat: A case study of Crow
key waterfowl species forever. The darter and other waterfowl
(Corvus sp.), by Hiren Soni, Ashok and Rita Patel
species are fighting for survival against innumerable factors, both
sequentially and simultaneously. Their battle for survival may end
Note from the Publisher eventually with a tragic and poignant note. Nonetheless, the aquatic
denizens that are suffering ecological convulsions are seemingly
Dear fellow Birdwatchers,
unaware of the terminal problems and continue to fight with
Extreme adaptation presents fortitude in our troubled waters.
a challenge to darters The darters of course need ideal habitats to feed and safe nesting
Birdwatchers of India have visited almost every nook and corner habitats to raise a family. They indeed serve as indicators of water
of our country and have been reporting the perceptible changes quality in wetlands. Pragmatically, the most important indirect
affecting the avian diversity. Among the species of birds in the function of waterfowl in relation to human-dominated systems is
checklist of Hollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary by Kumud Ghosh, the that they serve as environmental monitors. The resurgence of
darter merits a special mention in my note. Some two decades pollution in Indian wetlands is clearly signaled by the drowning of
ago, the Ranganathitoo Bird Sanctuary (Karnataka), was the most darters and the departure of key waterfowl species. Such early
favoured destination for a darter to nest. But today the darter has warnings by birders are subsequently corroborated by experts,
become is a shadow of itself, with hardly any member of this who spend significant amounts of money and time collecting
species nesting in the sanctuary. The darter seems to be data on stream water quality, pesticide residues, radionuclide
completely overawed by pollution, habitat loss, disturbances at contamination, wetland acidification, laboratory analysis etc,. In
feeding and nesting colonies and hunting pressure. It is estimated brief, renewed and recurrent visits to key habitats by
that no more than 4000 individuals of this species exist in South birders are helpful in the timely detection of the
Asia. According to the recent Asian Waterbird Census results, malady in a given habitat that can be brought to
the highest count totals for darters in South Asia is 746 (in 2001) the notice of the authorities for remedial action.
of which 617 (83%) has been reported from India (mainly from
Thanking you,
Northeast), followed by Pakistan (71), Sri Lanka (45), Nepal (12)
Yours in bird conservation
and Bangladesh (1) (see map on page 48).
S.Sridhar, Publisher, NLBW
Newsletter for Birdwatchers 47 (3) 2007 35

Birds of Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary

Kumud Ghosh
Lecturer, Education Department, Nakachari College, Nakachari - 785635, Jorhat-Assam

Introduction arctoides), Northern Pig-tailed macaque (Macaca lenina),

Eastern Assamese macaque (Macaca assamensis
Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary lies between 90°20/- - 90°25/
assamensis), Slow loris (Nycticebus bengalensis) Indian
east and 26°40/ – 26°45/ north and it covers an area of 20.98
Rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta mulatta), Orange-
sq. km. (including the area under the control of the Indian
bellied Capped Leaf Monkey (Trachypithecus pileatus
Army) at Jorhat district of Assam. The Hoollongapar Gibbon
durga), Hog Deer (Axis porcinus), Sambar (Cervus
Sanctuary has its early history in “Hoollongapar Forest”
unicolor), W ild Boar, Albino Boar, Porcupine (Hystrix
during British period in 1881. The Government of Assam
indica), Tiger (Panthera tigris), Leopard (Panthera pardus),
has notified it as a Wildlife Sanctuary on 30th of July 1997
Jungle Cat (Felis chaus), Large Indian Civet (Viverra
vide notification no. FRS 37/97/31 and since then it came
zivetha), Small Indian Civet (Viverra Indica), Common Palm
to be known as Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary. But on 25th May,
Civet (Poradoxurus bermaphroditus), Malayan Giant
2004 through the notification no. FRP 37/97/20 of Assam
Squirrel (Ratufa bicolor), Hoary Bellied Himalayan Squirrel
Govt. it was renamed as Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary.
(Callosciurus pygerythrus), Three Stripped Palm Squirrel
This Sanctuary is situated varying from 100 to 120 meters
(Funambulus palmarum), Five Stripped Palm Squirrel
altitude and the average annual rainfall is 249 cm.
(Funambulus pennanti), Indian Python (Python molurus),
Flora and fauna of the sanctuary Cat snake (Boiga trigonata), Indian Cobra (Naja Naja),
Common rat snake (Pitas mucosus), Indian Elephant
The sanctuary is dominated by Ou Tenga (Dillenia indicia),
(Elephas maximus), Marbled Cat (Felis marmorata),
Amari (Aglaia spectabilis), Gahorisopa (Magnolia griffithii),
Leopard Cat (Felis bengalensis), Common Mongoose
Borhamthuri (Magnolia hodgsonii), Bandardima (Dysoxylum
(Herpestes edwardsi), Common Indian Mongoose
sp.), Titachapa (Michelia baillonii), Bhelekor (Aristolochia
(Herpestes auropunctatus), Indian Fox (Vulpes
tagala), Chalmogra (Hydnocarpus kurzii), Bhelu (Tetrameles
bengalensis), Jackal (Canis aureus), W ild Boar
nudiflora), Bon Aam (Mangifera sylvatica), Bonpetha
(Sus scrofa) etc.
(Chrysophyllum roxburghii), Borpat (Ailanthus integrifolia),
Nahor (Mesua ferrea), Hollong (Dipterocarpus macrocarpus), It is very interesting to note that the birdlife of HGS is rich
Garjan (Dipterocarpus turbinatus), Himolu (Bombax ceiba), and diverse and its natural bounty is enhanced by the
Selleng (Sapium baccatum), Rudraksha (Eleaeocarpus presence of a wide variety of Hill Birds. Moreover, Nagaland,
sphaericus), Dewa Sam (Artocarpus lacucha), Dhuna which has a unique avian diversity, is not very far from this
(Canarium bengalense), Amora (Spondias pinnata), Moj Sanctuary. So the Check-list will highlight those birds which
(Pithecellobium monadelphum), Arjun (Terminalia arjuna), are actually hill birds.
Halakh (Terminalia myriocarpa), Kendu (Diospyros
Objectives of the study
embryopteris), Sationa (Alstonia scholaris), Sachi (Aqualaria
agolacha), Cham Kothal (Artocarpus chama), Kath Badam HGS is well known among the wildlife lovers of India and
(Mansonia dipikae),Gamari (Gmelia arborea), Hingari abroad for its non-human primates’ diversity. To draw the
(Castanopsis indica), Lemtem (Gynocordia odorata), Paroli attention of the birdwatchers and to convince them to visit
(Stereospermum chelonoides) etc. this sanctuary for bird-watching is an objective of this study.
Some important climbers of the sanctuary are Mamoilata To prepare an up-to-date checklist of the birds in and around
(Gnetaceae montanum), Bonjalika (Clematis cadmia), the sanctuary. Till now none has prepared a checklist of the
Hoolooklata (Pycnarrhena pleniflora), Tubukilata birds of the sanctuary.
(Cissampelos pareira), Tikanibaruwal (Byttneria grandifolia)
To help the authorities and others interested in conservation
Chepatalata (Cayratia trifolia), Harjodralata (Cissus
of this unique habitat to not only appreciate but also to
quadrangularis), Panilata (Vitis planicaulis) Bakalbih
recognize and protect the rich bird diversity of the sanctuary.
(Millettia pachycarpa) Bandor Kankora (Mucuna pruriens),
Kalmow (Ipomea aquatica), Raghumola (Cascuta reflexa), To encourage the local people and students to conserve birds.
Aaownipan (Peperomia thomsonii) etc.
Several species of cane and more than hundred species of
I monitored the bird diversity in and around HGS from
herb, shrub, under shrub, lianas, bamboo and grass prove
17-3-2006 to 16-3-2007. A series of transects that were laid
the rich bio-diversity of the sanctuary
in the sanctuary for intensive survey and behavioral study of
The main fauna of HGS includes, Western Hoolock Gibbon non-human primates were used. Besides this, birds were
(Hoolock hoolock), Stump-tailed Macaque (Macaca recorded by point count methods in the major vegetation
36 Newsletter for Birdwatchers 47 (3) 2007
types as well as at the water bodies in and around the quantities of grass and leaves from the Sanctuary for their
sanctuary. On the other hand, a few birds were recorded cattle. On the other hand, a group of people illegally collect
during the behavioral study of non-human primates with wood for wood-coal which is used by washer-men of nearest
Dr. Dilip Chetry. Apart from this, chance encounters were city and town. Herbicides and pesticides used by the tea
also recorded while studying the movements of butterflies gardeners for higher yields of tea, by and large trickles
around HGS with Miss Monimala Saikia. Furthermore, birds through the drains to the sanctuary during the rainy season.
were also recorded while working as a voluntary guide for a
number of wildlife lovers. The identifications were based on
S. Ali (2002), A.U. Choudhury (2000), R.K. Das (2006), It is necessary to include fallow government lands under
R. Grimmett, C. Inskipp, T. Inskipp (1999), Eric Simms the jurisdiction of the Sanctuary and this will certainly enlarge
(1990), H. Edwin Barnes (1981), Hugh Whistler (1986), Joel the space for the birds.
Carl Wetly (Third Edition), Bruce Campbell, Donald Waston Waterlogged area created by river Bhogdoi should also be
(1984), Frank Finn (1981), Arthur A. Allen (1961), R.A. Hinde brought under the jurisdiction of the sanctuary. This area is
(1969), Jean Dorst (1974), Vishwa Mohan Tiwari (2002), Krys an important place for wetland birds.
Kazmierczak (2003), B. Grewal, B. Harvey, P. Fister (2002). Emphasis should be given to develop a more viable and
Limitations of the survey feasible dense forest cover to provide food and shelter for
the inhabitants of the sanctuary.
There weren’t any previous checklists of the birds of HGS.
High density canopy cover was another problem for data The route of the drains of the tea gardens bordering the
collection inside the sanctuary. In many cases, accurate sanctuary should be changed. Otherwise, they will create
identification of birds hinged on listening to bird calls more and more problems for the wildlife in the coming years.
also. Therefore, bird calls were also very much essential for By providing alternate resources to the livelihood and by
data collection. creating awareness among people of neighboring villages
and tea gardens, the destruction of the forest could be
Moreover there are some other problems like inclement
brought down significantly.
weather and potential threats from wild Elephants, Tigers,
Leopards, King Cobras, and Pythons etc.
Checklist of the Birds of
The presence of leeches in good numbers also disturbed Hoollongapar Gibbon Sanctuary
and broke the concentration of study during rainy season. The following checklist includes all 219 species that have been
recorded by the author in and around the sanctuary.
Physico- ecological set up of the sanctuary
The following abbreviations have been used for species status symbols:
Topographically the surface of the sanctuary is gentle
BR = Breeding Resident, R = Resident, WV = Winter visitor,
sloping down from south-east to north-west, which
P = Passage migrant, L = Local & altitudinal migrant, C = Common,
essentially exhibits a very smooth and continuous
S = Stray or Vagrant, U = Uncommon, O = Occasional, SV= Summer
interaction of down slope and high slope ecosystem within Visitor.
the sanctuary. The westward shifting river Bhogdoi adinterim
Habitat : A = Aerial, D = Distributed areas (including cultivation &
creates a waterlogged area along the periphery of the
Tea Gardens), G = Grasses under shrub, OA = Open areas,
sanctuary which is yet to be brought under the jurisdiction
SF = Semi-evergreen forest, WT = Water bodies (including the
of the sanctuary. But, the sanctuary’s diverse topography river Bhogdoi & the drains inside the Sanctuary).
is yet to be clearly studied before delineating it on the basis
Threat category according to Birdlife International (2001) has been
of its micro level difference in slope characteristics and
given as below:
distribution of flora. Semi hydrophytic plants are dominant
in the down slope region while no hydrophytic plants grow EN = Endangered, VU = Vulnerable, DD = Data deficient, NT = Near
threatened, RR = Restricted range.
in the up slope zone of the sanctuary. On the other hand,
the low-lying patch formed by the shifting of Bhogdoi River The common English and scientific names are followed by status
at the west exhibits a distinctly different ecological set up. symbols, threat category and type of habitant.
The sanctuary therefore, consists of three zones of micro Order : Galliformes, Family: Phasianidae
ecosystems. Those are: (a) Up slope zone (90-96 mts.) Pheasants
(b) Down slope zone (88.5-90 mts.) (c) Flood prone zone 1. Red Junglefowl, Gallus gallus BR, C, SF
(< 88.5 mts.). 2. Kalij Pheasant, Lophura leucomelanos BR.C. G, SF
Order: Anseriformes, Family: Acaridae
Conservation Problems
There are more than five villages and four tea gardens around
3. Ruddy Shelduck, Tadorna ferruginea WV, U, WT
the sanctuary inhabited by more than ten thousand people. 4. Common Teal, Anas crecca WV, C, WT
Most of the people of those villages and tea gardens depend 5. Common Pochard, Aythya ferina WV, U, WT
upon the Sanctuary for their daily firewood, traditional
Order: Piciformes, Family: Picidae
medicine and forest produce. At the same time, there are
Piculets, Woodpeckers
more then twenty Cattle ‘Khuties’ near the river Bhogdoi.
The owners of those ‘Khuties’ generally collect huge 6. Speckled Piculet, Picumnus innominatus R,C, SF
Newsletter for Birdwatchers 47 (3) 2007 37
7. White-Browed Piculet, Sasia ochracea R, C, SF Order: Psittaciformes, FAMILY: Psittacidae
8. Rufous Woodpecker, Celeus brachyurus. BR, C, SF Parrots
9. Grey-Capped Pygmy woodpecker, 47. Alexandrine Parakeet, Psittacula eupatria R, C, SF
Dendrocoposcanicapillus. R,U, SF 48. Rose-ringed Parakeet, Psittacula krameri BR, C, SF
10. Fulvous-Breasted Woodpecker, Dendrocopos macei R, C, SF 49. Red-Breasted Parakeet, Psittacula alexandri BR, C, SF
11. Lesser Yellownape, Picus chlorolophus BR, C, SF 50. Blossom-Headed Parakeet, Psittacula roseate U, SF
12. Greater Yellownape, Picus flavinucha BR, C, SF
13. Streak-Throated Woodpecker, Picus xanthopygaeus BR, U, SF Order: Apodiformes, Family: Apodidae
14. Grey-Headed Woodpecker, Picus canus R, U, SF Swifts
15. Himalayan flameback, Dinopium shorii R, U, SF 51. Himalayan Swiftlet, Collocalia brevirostris P, U, A
16. Common Flameback, Dinopium javanense R, U, SF 52. Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis R, U, A
17. Greater Flameback, Chrysocolaptes lucidus BR, C, SF 53. House Swift, Apus affinis R, U, A
Order: Piciformes/ Megalaimidae, Family: Capitonidae Order: Strigiformes, Family : Strigidae/ Tytonidae
Barbets Owls
18. Lineated Barbet, Megalaima lineata BR, C, SF 54. Mountain scops owl, Otus spilocephalus O, SF
19. Golden-Throated Barbet, Megalaima franklinii BR, U, SF 55. Oriental Scops Owl, Otus sunia. WV, U, SF
20. Blue-Throated Barbet, Megalaima asiatica Br, C, SF 56. Collared Scops Owl, Otus bakkamoena R, U, SF
21. Blue-Eared Barbet, Megalaima australis BR, U, SF 57. Brown Fish Owl, Ketupa zeylonensis R, U, OA, SF
22. Coppersmith Barbet, Megalaima haemacephala BR, C, SF 58. Collared Owlet, Glaucidium brodiei R, C, SF
Order: Coraciiformes/ Bucerotiformes, Family: Bucerotidae 59. Asian Barred Owlet, Glaucidium cuculoides BR, L, C, SF, OA
60. Spotted Owlet, Athene brama BR, C, OA, SF
Hornbills 61. Brown Hawk Owl, Ninox scutulata R, C, SF
23. Oriental Pied Hornbill, Anthracoceros albirostris BR, C, SF Order: Caprimulgiformes, Family: Caprimulgidae
24. Great Hornbill, Buceros bicornis. BR,U,NT, SF
Order: Coraciiformes/ Upupiformes, Family: Upupidae
62. Grey Nightjar, Caprimulgus indicus O, G
Hoopoe 63. Large-Tailed Nightjar, Caprimulgus macrurus BR, L, C, G
25. Common Hoopoe, Upupa epops BR,L,C,OA, SF, D Order: Columbiformes, Family: Columbidae
Order: Trogoniformes, Family: Trogonidae Pigeons, Doves
Trogon 64. Ashy Wood Pigeon, Columba pulchricollis U, SF
26. Red-Headed Trogon, Harpactes erythrocephalus L, C, SF 65. Green Imperial Pigeon, Ducula aenea BR, C, SF
66. Oriental Turtle Dove, Streptopelia orientalis BR, C, OA, SF
Order: Coraciiformes, Family: Coraciidae
67. Spotted Dove, Streptopelia chinensis BR, C, OA, SF
Rollers 68. Emerald Dove, Chalcophaps indica BR, C, SF
27. Indian Roller, Coracias benghalensis BR,C, OA,SF, D 69. Pompadour Green pigeon, Treron pompadora O, SF
28. Dollarbird, Eurystomus orientalis R, C, OA, SF, D 70. Yellow-Footed Green Pigeon, Treron phoenicoptera R, C, SF
Order: Coraciiformes, Family: Alcedinidae, Halcyonidae, Cerylydae Order : Gruiformes, Family: Rallidae
Kingfishers Rails
29. Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis BR, C, WT 71. White-Breasted Waterhen, Amaurornis phoenicurus BR, C, WT, D
30. Stork-Billed Kingfisher, Halcyon capensis BR, U, WT 72. Purple Swamphen, Porphyrio porphyrio BR,C, WT
31. White-Throated Kingfisher, Halcyon smyrnensis BR, C, OA, WT, D 73. Common Moorhen, Gallinula chloropus BR, C, WT
32. Pied Kingfisher, Ceryle rudis BR, C, WT Order: Charadriiformes/Ciconiiformes
Order: Coraciiformes, Family: Meropidae Family: Charadriidae/Scolopacidae
Bee-eaters Snipes, Sandpipers, Plover
74. Common snipe, Gallinago gallinago WV, C, WT, OA
33. Blue-Bearded Bee-eater, Nyctyornis athertoni R, L, U, OA, SF, D
75. Common Greenshank, Tringa nebularia WV, C, WT
34. Green Bee-eater, Merops orientalis R, C, OA,SF
76. Wood Sandpiper, Tringa glareola WV, C, WT
35. Blue-Tailed Bee-eater, Merops philippinus R, L, C, OA, SF
77. Common Sandpiper, Actitis hypoleucos WV, C, WT
36. Chestnut-Headed Bee-eater, Merops leschenaulti R, L, U, OA,SF
78. Little Ring Plover, Charadrius dubius WV,C, WT
Order: Cuculiformes, Family: Cuculidae/ Centropodidae 79. Red-Wattled Lapwing, Vanellus indicus BR, C, WT, OA
Cuckoos Order: Charadriiformes/Ciconiiformes, Family: Jacanidae
37. Pied Cuckoo, Clamator jacobinus U, SF Jacana
38. Chestnut-Winged Cuckoo, Clamator coromandus O, SV, U, SF 80. Pheasant-tailed Jacana, Hydrophasianus chirurgus BR, C, WT
39. Common Hawk Cuckoo, Hierococcyx varius O, SF 81. Bronze-Winged Jacana, Metopidius indicus BR, C, WT
40. Indian cuckoo, Cuculus micropterus P, C, SF Order: Charadriiformes/Ciconiiformes, Family: Laridae
41. Plaintive Cuckoo, Cacomantis merulinus R, C, SF Tern
42. Asian Emerald Cuckoo, Chrysococcyx maculatus P, U, SF 82. River Tern, Sterna aurantia R, C, WT
43. Drongo Cuckoo, Surniculus, lugubris P, U, SF Order: Falconiformes/ Ciconiiformes, Family: Accipitridae
44. Asian Koel, Eudynamys scolopacea R, L, C, SF Eagles
45. Greater Coucal, Centropus sinensis BR, U, SF 83. Black Baza, Aviceda leuphotes R, L, U, OA
46. Lesser Coucal, Centropus bengalensis BR, C, SF 84. Black kite, Milvus migrans R, C, OA
38 Newsletter for Birdwatchers 47 (3) 2007
85. Grey-Headed Fish Eagle, Ichtyophaga ichthyaetus BR, C, NT, WT 124. Scarlet Minivet, Pericrocotus flammeus R, C, SF
86. Crested Serprent Eagle, Spilornis cheela BR, C, OA, SF 125. Black-naped Monarch, Hypothymis azurea BR, C, SF
87. Pied Harrier, Circus melanoleucos WV,U, OA,WT Order: Passeriformes, Family: Dicruridae/Corvidae
88. Shikra, Accipiter badius R, C, OA, A
89. Black-shouldered kite, Elanus caeruleus BR, C, OA
126. Black Drongo, Dicrurus macrocercus BR, C, OA, SF
Order: Pelecaniformes/ Ciconiiformes
127. Ashy Drongo, Dicrurus leucophaeus R,WV,C,OA, SF
Family: Phalacrocoracidae/ Anhingidae
128. Bronzed Drongo, Dicrurus aeneus L,WV,C,OA, SF
Cormorants 129. Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Dicrurus remifer BR, C, SF
90. Darter, Anhinga melanogaster U, NT, WT 130. Spangled Drongo, Dicrurus hottentottus R, C, SF
91. Little Cormorant, Phalacrocorax niger BR, C, WT 131. Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Dicrurus paradiseus R, C, SF
92. Indian Cormorant, Phalacrocorax fuscicollis R, U, WT Order: Passeriformes, Family: Muscicapidae/Corvidae
93. Great Cormorant, Phalacrocorax carbo L, U, WT Sub-family: Muscicapinae
Order: Ciconiformes/ Ciconiiformes, Family: Ardeidae Flycatcher
Egrets, Herons 132. Ferruginous Flycatcher, Muscicapa ferruginea R, C, SF
94. Little Egret, Egretta garzetta BR, C, WT 133. Red-throated Flycatcher, Ficedula parva WV, C, SF
95. Great Egret, Casmerodius albus R, C, WT 134. Little Pied Flycatcher, Ficedula westermanni L, C, SF
96. Intermediate Egret, Mesophoyx intermedia R, C, WT 135. Slaty-blue Flycatcher, Ficedula tricolor WV, C, SF
97. Cattle Egret, Bubulcus ibis BR, C, OA, D 137. Verditer Flycatcher, Eumyias thalassina WV, C, SF
98. Indian Pond Heron, Ardeola grayii R, C, WT 137. Asian Brown Flycatcher, Muscicapa dauurica U, SF
99. Little Heron, Butorides striatus BR, C, WT 138. White-throated Fantail, Rhipidura albicollis C, SF
100. Black-Crowned Night Heron, Nycticorax nycticorax BR, C, WT 139. Large Niltava, Niltava grandis WV,C, SF
Order: Ciconiformes/ Ciconiiformes, Family: Ciconiidae 140. Small Niltava, Niltava macgrigoriae WV,C, SF
141. Rufous-bellied Niltava, Niltava sundara L, C, SF
142. Pale-chinned Flycatcher, Cyornis poliogenys R, U, SF
101. Asian Openbill, Anastomus oscitans BR, C, WT 143. Blue-throated Flycatcher, Cyornis rubeculoides WV, U, SF
102. Lesser Adjutant, Leptoptilos javanicus R,L,C, VU, WT 144. Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher,
Order: Passeriformes, Family: Zosteropidae Culicicapa ceylonensis WV, C, SF
White-eye 145. Asian Paradise-flycatcher, Terpsiphone paradisi BR, U, SF

103. Orienta White-eye, Zosterops palpebrosus BR, C, SF Order: Passpriformes, Family : Muscicapidae, Sub-family: Turdinae

Order: Passeriformes, Family: Irenidae/ Corvidae Thrushes, Chats

Ioras, Leafbirds 146. White-tailed Rubythroat, Luscinia pectoralis WV, C, SF

147. Oriental Magpie Robin, Copsychus saularis BR, C, OA, SF
104. Asian Fairy Bluebird, Irena puella U, SF 148. White-rumped Shama, Copychus malabaricus BR, C, SF
105. Golden-Fronted Leafbird, Chloropsis aurifrons R, C, SF 149. Daurian Redstart, Phoenicurus auroreus WV, C, SF
106. Orange-Bellied Leafbird, Chloropsis hardwickii R, U, SF 150. White-tailed Robin, Myiomela leucura WV, O, SF
107. Common Iora, Aegithina tiphia BR,C,SF 151. Common Stonechat, Saxicola torquata WV, C, OA
Order: Passeriformes, Family: Laniidae 152. Grey Bushchat, Saxicola ferrea WV, U, G, SF
Shrikes 153. Blue Rock Thrush, Monticola solitarius BR, U, SF
108. Brown Shrike, Lanius cristatus WV, C, OA,SF 154. Scaly Thrush, Zoothera dauma BR, C, SF
109. Long-tailed Shrike, Lanius schach WV,C, OA, SF 155. Black-breasted Thrush, Turdus dissimilis R, C, SF
110. Grey-backed Shrike, Lanius tephronotus WV,C,OA, SF 156. Dark-throated Thrush, Turdus ruficollis BR, C, SF
Order: Passeriformes, Family: Corvidae Order: Passeriformes, Family: Sturnidae
Magpies, Crows Starlings, Mynas
111. Rufous Treepie, Dendrocitta vagabunda BR, C, SF 157. Spot-winged Starling, Saroglossa spiloptera WV, C, SF
112. Grey Treepie, Dendrocitta formosae R, L, U, SF 158. Chestnut-tailed Starling, Sturnus malabaricus R, C, OA, SF
113. Collared Treepie, Dendrocitta frontalis U, SF 159. Asian Pied Starling, Sturnus contra BR, C, SF
114. House Crow, Corvus splendens BR, C, OA 160. Brahminy Starling, Sturnus pagodarum S, SF
115. Large-billed Crow, Corvus macrorhynchos BR, C, OA, SF 161. Common Myna, Acridotheres tristis BR,C,OA,G, SF
162. Bank Myna, Acridotheres ginginianus S, OA, SF
Order: Passeriformes, Family: Oriolidae/ Corvidae
163. Jungle Myna, Acridotheres fuscus BR, C, OA, SF
Orioles 164. White-vented Myna, Acridotheres cinereus BR, C, OA, SF
116. Black-hooded Oriole, Oriolus xanthornus BR,C, SF 165. Hill Myna, Gracula religiosa BR, C, SF
117. Maroon Oriole, Oriolus traillii U, SF Order: Passeriformes, Family: Sittidae/Certihiidae
Order: Passeriformes, Family: Campephagidae/ Corvidae Nuthatches and Creeper
Cuckoo-shrikes, Minivets
166. Chestnut-bellied Nuthatch, Sitta castanea R, C, SF
118. Large Cuckoo-shrike, Coracina macei R, C, SF 167. Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Sitta frontalis R, U, SF
119. Black-winged Cuckoo-shrike, Coracina melaschistos L, U, SF
Order: Passeriformes, Family: Paridae
120. Rosy Minivet, Pericrocotus roseus R, U, SF
121. Small Minivet, Pericrocotus cinnamomeus R, U, SF Tits or Titimice
122. Long-tailed Minivet, Pericrocotus ethologus U, SF 168. Great Tit, Parus major L, U, SF
123. Short-billed Minivet, Pericrocotus brevirostris L, C, SF 169. Sultan Tit, Melanochlora sultanea. BR, C, SF
Newsletter for Birdwatchers 47 (3) 2007 39
Order: Passeriformes, Family: Hirundinidae Order: Passeriformes, Family: Motacillidae/Passeridae
Swallows Wagtails & Pipits
170. Plain Martin, Riparia paludicola. R, L, C, A, SF 212. White Wagtail, Motacilla alba. WV,C,OA,WT,D
171. Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica. L, A, WT 213. Grey Wagtail, Motacilla cinerea WV,C,OA,WT
Order: Passeriformes, Family: Pycnonotidae 214. Paddyfield Pipit, Anthus rufulus. R, C, OA, D
215. Olive-backed Pipit, Anthus hodgsoni. WV, C, SF
216. Rosy Pipit, Anthus roseatus. WV, C, OA, G
172. Red-whiskered Bulbul, Pycnonotus jocosus. BR, C, SF
Order: Passeriformes, Sub-amily: Estrildinae/Passeridae
173. Red-vented Bulbul, Pycnonotus cafer. BR, C, SF
174. White-throated Bulbul, Alophoixus flaveolus. R, L, C, SF Munias
175. Ashy Bulbul, Hemixos flavala O, SF 217. White-rumped Munia, Lonchura striata. BR, U, G
176. Black Bulbul, Hypsipetes leucocephalus. WV, C, SF 218. Scaly-breasted Munia, Lonchura punctulata. BR, U, G
Order: Passeriformes 219. Black-headed Munia, Lonchura malacca. BR, U, G
Family: Muscicapidae/Sylviidae/Cistioolidae
I acknowledge with gratitude, for the formal permission given
177. Grey-brested Prinia, Prinia hodgsonii O, G
178. Yellow-bellied Prinia, Prinia flaviventris. R, C, G
to me by Mr. A.K. Das, D.F.O., Jorhat Forest Division,
179. Slaty-bellied Tesia, Tesia olivea. L, C, SF Jorhat, Assam, to conduct this study. I also acknowledge
180. Pale-footed Bush Warbler, Cettia pallidipes. WV, O, G with gratitude for his continuous encouragement given by
181. Grey-sided Bush Warbler, Cettia brunnifrons. WV, U, G Mr. G. Saikia, A.C.F., Jorhat Forest Division, Jorhat, Assam.
182. Paddy Field Warbler, Acrocephalus agricola WV, C, G
183. Common Tailorbird, Orthotomus sutorius. R,C,G,OA,SF I am extremely grateful to Mr. Ranjan Kumar Das of
184. Dusky Warbler, Phylloscopus fuscatus WV, C, G, SF Tinsukia, Mr. B.P. Lahkar of Aaranyak and Mr. Sanjay Das
185. Smoky Warbler, Phylloscopus fuligiventer. WV, C, G, SF of Guijan (Tinsukia), with whom I have had the opportunities
186. Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Phylloscopus affinis. WV, C, G, SF to discuss about the identification of birds and I thank them
187. Greenish Warbler, Phylloscopus trochiloides. WV, C, SF for their constant encouragement.
188. Yellow-vented Warbler, Phylloscopus cantator. WV, U, G, SF
189. White-spectacled Warbler, Zosterops palpebrosus, C, G, SF I am also thankful to the Range Officer of Mariani, Mr. J.
Order: Passeriformes, Family: Muscicapidae/Sylviidae
Baruah and Beat Officer of the Meleng Beat, Mr. Haidar Ali
Sub-family: Timaliinae and Mr. Deepak Bordoloi for their help during the study.
Babblers I am extremely thankful to Dr. Dilip Chetry, for without his
190. Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, Garrulax monileger R, C, SF equipment and moral support I could not have completed
191. Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Garrulax pectoralis R, C, SF this work. I am thankful to Mr Bhupendranath Goswami,
192. Rofous Necked Laughingthrush, Garrulax ruficollis. BR, C, SF Lecturer of Mariani College for permitting me to use the
193. Abbott’s Babbler, Malacocincla abbotti U, G, SF maps drawn by him during my study.
194. Buff-breasted Babbler, Pellorneum tickelli. R, U, SF
195. Puff-throated Babbler, Pellorneum ruficeps. BR, C, SF Finally, special thanks to the members of Gibbon
196. White-browed Scimitar Babbler, Conservation Centre, Hoollongapar Natures Society, Forest
Pomatorhinus schisticeps R, C, G, SF Staff of Meleng Beat, Teachers and Student friends of
197. Chestnut- Capped Babbler, Timalia pileata BR, U, G Nakachari College, Manjit Bora, Co-ordinator of Aaranyak,
198. Grey-thorated Babbler, Stachyris nigriceps L, C, SF
Upper Assam Circle, Arnab Bora of Tinsukia and Monimala
199. Striped Tit Babbler, Macronous gularis. BR, C, SF
200. Yellow-eyed Babbler, Chrysomma sinense. U, G, SF
Saikia of A.A.U., Jorhat, Assam.
201. Chestnut-capped Babbler, Timalia pileata BR, C, G References
202. Rufous-winged Bushlark, Mirafra assamica. BR, C, SF Ali, S. (2002): The Book of Indian Birds, 13th Edition, B.N.H.S., Oxford,
Order: Passeriformes, Family: Dicaeidae/ Nectariniidae Bombay.
Flowerpeckers Allen, A. A. (1961): The Book of Bird Life, D. Van Nostrand Company,
203. Pale-bellied Flowerpecker, Dicaeum erythrorhynchos R, L, C,SF INC.
204. Plain Flowerpecker, Dicaeum concolor. R, C, SF Barness, H. E. (1981): The Birds of India, Cosmo Publication, New
205. Scarlet-backed Flowerpecer, Dicaeum cruentatum. R, C, SF Delhi.
206. Thick-billed Flowerpecker, Dicaeum agile C, SF
Campbell, B., Watson, D. (1984): The Illustrated Book of Birds, Peerage
Order: Passeriformes, Family: Nectarinidae Books.
Sunbirds Choudhury, A. U. (2002): The Birds of Assam, Gibbon Books, WWF.
207. Ruby-cheeked Sunbird, Anthreptes singalensis. L, C, SF Das, R. (2006): Pokhir Kakolit Dibru-Saikhowa, Minivet Publications,
208. Purple Sunbird, Nectarinia asiatica R, U, SF Tinsukia, Assam.
209. Crimson Sunbird, Aethopyga siparaja. BR, C, SF
Dorst, J. (Translated by I. C. J. Galbraith, 1974): The life of Birds, Vol.-
Order: Passeriformes, Sub-family: Passerinae
2, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London.
Finn, F. (1981): Garden Birds of India, Cosmo Publications, New delhi.
210. House Sparrow, Passer domesticus, BR, C, OA, D
Girmmett, R., Inskipp, C., Inskipp, T. (2000): Pocket Guide to the Birds
211. Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Passer montanus. R, C, SF
of Indian Subcontinent, Oxford University Press.
40 Newsletter for Birdwatchers 47 (3) 2007
Goswami, B., Sarmah, P. (1994-2004): Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary: an Saikia, G. (2002): A Brochure on Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary, Jorhat
approach for Sustainable development, Mariani College Magazine. Forest Division.
Grewal, B., Harvey, B. and Fister, O.P. (2002): A Photographic Guide Simms, E. (1990): Woodland Birds, Bloomsbury Books, London.
to the Birds of India & the Indian Subcontinent including Pakistan, Tiwari, V. M. (2002): Joy of Bird Watching, N.B.T., India.
Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka & Maldives. (HK) Limited,
Welty, J. C. (Third Edition): The Life of Birds, Saunder College Pubishing.
Periplus Editions.
Whistler, H. (1986): Handbook of Indian Birds, Cosmo Publications,
Hinde, R. A., Edited (1969): Birds Vocalizations, Cambridge University
New Delhi
Kazmierczak, K. (2003): A Field Guide to the Birds of India, Sri Lanka,
Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and the Maldives, Om Book

Studies on the role of partners in Nest Building

Activity of the Wire Tailed Swallow (Hirundo smithii)
in Kodiyampalayam area, near Pichavaram Mangroves
S. Sandilyan*, K. Thiyagesan and S. Saravanan
Division of Wildlife biology, A.V.C.College, Mannampandal, Mayiladuthurai - 609305, Tamil Nadu, India
*6A/18c, No. 5. New Street, Mayiladuthurai - 609001, Tamil Nadu, India

Wire tailed Swallows (Hirundo smithii) construct mud nests, 141 endemic species. New species are continually being
composed of sand, silt, and clay and plant materials. Their added to the region’s list.
nests were found under the bridges in the Kodiyampalayam
Even though Indian subcontinent has good bird diversity,
area near the Pichavaram Mangrove, Tamilnadu, India. Both
scientific studies on a number of birds, their general biology,
the partners are involved in nest building. The proportion
reproduction and behavioral ecology have not been
test shows there was no significant difference in the time
undertaken so far or even attempted. The Wire tailed Swallow
spent on nest building between the male and female
(Hirundo smithii) is one among them. According to IUCN,
(Z = 0.452; P > 0.05). The breeding pair had contributed
2003, it is one of the threatened birds of India.
equal amounts of time for nest construction. The completed
nest was 5.5 cm wide, projecting away from the vertical W ire tailed Swallow is a small passerine bird in the
surface; the length was 9.2 cm and the circumference was Hirundinidae family. All the Swallows belong to the order
28 cm. Passeriformes. Birds of this order are the most highly evolved
of all birds, and are highly adaptative to all terrestrial terrains.
This order has the largest number of bird species with over
Aves are a familiar feature of our environment and every 5100 different kinds of birds. In this order, the birds have
one notices them. It is small wonder that birdwatching is fragile bones, and as a result they are rarely fossilized, and
such a popular pastime the world over. Due to their varied give few clues to their evolution (Encyclopedia Britannica).
lifestyles, conspicuousness, diurnal habits, and interesting
plumage and calls, birds are also regarded as good subjects World wide, 89 swallow species are recorded. We can see
for exploring a number of questions of ecological and swallows in every continent except Antarctica. In the case
conservation significance (Urfi, 2003). They are also ideal of Wire tailed Swallow, two species have been recorded,
bio–indicators and useful models for studying a variety of the African form (Hirundo smithii filifer) and the Asian form
environmental problems. Presently, more attention is being (Hirundo smithii). These two species of Wire - tailed Swallow
given to conservation monitoring and ecological studies breed in Africa south of Sahara and in tropical southern Asia
(Newton, 1995). from the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia, respectively.
A number of swallows are migrant, but the Wire tailed Swallow
Indian subcontinent is rich in avian species. This is partly is a resident species. The species gets the name from its
because of its wide altitudinal range, extending from sea very long filamentous outermost tail feathers, which trail
level up to summit of the Himalayas. Another reason is the behind like two wires (www 1).
highly varied climate and associated diversity of vegetation
(Grimmett, R. 1999). As many as 13% of the worlds’ birds The color of birds, their songs, shapes, habitats and behavior
have been recorded in the Indian subcontinent. This includes are all fascinating. However a little more effort will show
another much-varied dimension of the bird world – their
nests. They construct their nests from a variety of material
Key words: Wire tailed swallow, Mud nest, Soil texture and in a variety of locations (www 2).
Newsletter for Birdwatchers 47 (3) 2007 41
Birds build nests in many shapes, sizes, and locations – The entire data was collected form the first nest in the
from tree holes to tunnels, from twig platforms to tiny cups study area.
of mud – but all provide security, warmth, and safety for
Materials & Methods
their eggs and young. Nest building is an inherited skill that
birds have developed to improve the chances of the survival The study was carried out between November 2006 and
of their progeny. The variety of design and construction March 2007. Data was collected on all week ends (Saturday
reflects the differing needs of each species and their and Sunday) during the study period. However, during the
adaptability to the habitats and utilization of available actual nest building period (December), data was collected
materials (www 3). on all the 13 days of nest construction.

In the case of wire tailed swallow, studies about their nesting The birds were observed directly or with the aid of binoculars
behavior, nest material preferences and the contribution of (7 X 50), depending on the distance from the nest.
breeding partners for nest building had not been attempted Nest measurements; include height above the ground,
so far in South Indian conditions. In order to fill the lacuna, projection from the vertical surface and the length of the
the current study was designed. nest using a centimeter scale. A thread was used to measure
The present study describes the nesting behavior of the circumference of the nest.
wire-tailed swallow “especially the time spent by each For identifying the bird, the field guides (Ali 2002 and
partner for constructing the mud nest” in between Grimmett 1999) were used.
Pichavaram to Kodiyampalayam, area (N 11.39° and
E 79.79°) which has a unique mangrove habitat. After a long Observation and Results
period of survey in this area, 4 nest sites of wire tailed The wire tailed swallow is a highly territorial bird and confined
swallows were identified under the bridges in a 4 Km stretch. to the neighborhoods of water (Ali 2002) Repeated surveys
The birds fixed their half bowl mud nest under the bridges. were made in the study area, from the initial survey, 7 small
Among the 4 nests studied, one was so high, that it could bridges and 4 big bridges were identified, and they were
not be reached, and the remaining three were accessible. regularly watched for the presence of swallows.
The main objectives of the present study are After a long period of survey 4 pairs of wire-tailed swallows
 To study the nesting site preferences of wire tailed that had occupied 4 big bridges were selected for closer
swallow in Pichavaram Mangrove region. observation in the study area. Among the 4 bridges 2 are
 Study the contributions of each partner in building the inaccessible and the remaining 2 are easy to study the
mud nest in the study area. nesting behaviour of the bird. Due to lack of manpower
nesting data was collected only from the nest located in
 Record the time spent by each partner to construct the the first bridge.
mud nest and
Location of the Nest
 To provide general information on this species and
to identify additional opportunities for research on The swallows started nest construction during the last week
this species. of December 2006. Small mud balls were pasted by the
birds on the vertical wall of the bridge. They placed the mud
Study Area balls 66 cm above the water surface and 2 cm below the
The present study was carried out in between Pichavaram ceiling. The nest was exactly placed 1.895 meters from the
to Kodiyampalayam, which covers a distance of 4 Km. The east and 3.155 meters from the west. Most of the time, the
study area is located in (N 11.39° and E.79°) in Tamilnadu, birds used the western side for entering into the nesting
India. The first 3 Km stretch comes under the Cuddalore site and flew out of the eastern side of the bridge.
district and the remaining 1 Km area area comes under the
Nest Building Activity
Nagai district of Tamilnadu. The temperature in and around
Pichavaram mangrove ranges between 20°C and 37°C. The From the first day itself the nest building activity was observed
study area receives rainfall mostly during southwest and the time spent by each partner for nest construction
monsoon (July to September). The total annual rainfall is was recorded periodically.
about 1,300 mm (Sampath, 1993). For the first two days each partner spent equal time for
3 nests were recorded in the Nagai district of the study construction (18 minutes), the third day the male contributed
area, and remaining nest was recorded in the Cuddalore 59.37% (19 min), the female 40.62% (13 min), the fourth
district. One of the nests in the Nagai district was at a day the male spent 45.45% (10 min), female 54.54%
considerable height, which was inaccessible. (12 min), the fifth day the male invested 53.48% (23 min),
female 46.54% (20 min), the sixth day male contributed
The first nest i.e. towards Pichavaram to Kodiyampalayam, 37.5% (3 min), female 62.5% (5 min), the seventh day the
is surrounded by agriculture lands, emerging mangrove, and male spent 63.63% (14 min), female 36.36% (8 min), the 8th
active aqua farms, the second and third bridges are surrounded day male spent 71.42% (15min) female 28.57% (6 min),
by well developed mangrove, and the fourth nest was the 9th day male contributed 44.44% (4 min) female 55.55%
surrounded by mangrove vegetation as well as thorny bushes.
42 Newsletter for Birdwatchers 47 (3) 2007
(5 min), the 10 th day male spent 61.11% (11 min) Soler et al (1998) discussed that, several studies have shown
female 38.88% (7 min), the 11th day male spent 61.90% that nest building ability of males is related to female mate
(13 min) female 38.09% ( 8 min), the 12th day male spent choice and the reproductive success of the pair: The female
21.48% (6 min) female 78.57% (22 min) and on the 13th day Penduline tits (Remiz pendulinus) choose the partners based
male spent 26.31% (5 min) female spent 73.68 % (14 min) on the nest quality. The nest may indicate the parental
(Table 1). quality, experience or genetic quality, and female could
therefore benefit from mating with a superior nest builder.
On the last two days, the female spent more time compared
to male. Totally the pair took 13 days to complete the nest, Swallow species, especially those that build mud nest, are
and they spent 315 minutes. closely related and have similar nesting behaviors (winkler
and shelden, 1993). An earlier study in the case of Bran
The proportion test shows there was no significant difference
swallows (Hirundo rustica) and cliff swallows (Hirundo
in the time spent on nest building between the male and
pyrrhonota) showed that they need or expect 4 basic
female (Z = 0.452; P > 0.05). Both sexes had contributed
conditions for nest site selection 1) An open area for
equal amount of time for nest construction. The complete
foraging, 2) A suitable surface for nest attachment,
nest was 5.5 cm projected away from the vertical surface,
3) A supply of mud of proper consistency for nest building
the length was 9.2 cm and the circumference was 28 cm.
and 4) A body of fresh water for drinking (www 3). Here in
Discussion our study all the conditions required for nesting were present.
An important behavioral reproductive decision of a bird is,
According to Winkler and Shelden, 1993, Swallow species,
where to place the nest (Cody, 1985; Johnson, 1994). Birds
especially those that build mud nest, are closely related
use their nests chiefly to protect themselves, their eggs,
and have similar nesting behaviors. Studies by Moller (1994)
and developing young, by constructing nests that are
in the case of Barn swallows, showed that both sexes
inaccessible, armored, camouflaged, or built in colonies that
participate in nest building, but there is considerable variation
provide safety from predators (Burger and Gochfled, 1968;
in the male’s contribution, which is negatively related to
Welty, 1982).
male’s tail length. Short tailed males invest more in nest
Nest building behaviour is often associated with courtship building than long tailed males. So investigation on this
and pair formation in birds; it may signal the reproductive aspect is also required in the case of wire tailed swallow. To
condition of individuals and physiologically stimulate a partner get a complete picture about the nesting behaviour of this
(Collias 1964). There is very little information on the importance species, a long-term scholarly study is required. It is a must
of nest itself and its role in the mate choice (Hoi et al.1994). in the case of Wire tailed swallow, because in 2003, IUCN
has declared that it is one of the threatened birds of India.
Soler et al. (1998) showed that bird species in which both
sexes build the nest have larger nests than those in which Summary
only the female builds. Nest size (relative to body size) was The Study was carried out from November 2006 – March
positively correlated with the amount of parental investment. 2007, in between Pichavaram to Kodiyampalayam roadside,
Nest size indicate the willingness of males to invest in which covers a distance of 4 Km. With in the 4 Km stretch,
reproduction and it could therefore be a post -mating sexually it has a mixed habitat of agricultural lands, emerging and
selection trait. well developed mangroves and aquaculture ponds.
Table 1: Time spent by male and female wire-tailed The data was collected from a nest located under the first
swallows towards nest building activities bridge from the first day of commencement of nest building
Days Time spent Time spent Contribution Contribution activity.
by male in by female of Male of Female
minutes in minutes in % in % Acknowledgewments

27-Dec 18 18 50 50
W e thank our principal Dr.M.Varatharajan, and our
Management for supporting and providing necessary facilities
28-Dec 18 18 50 50
to carryout the studies.
29-Dec 19 13 59.4 40.6
30-Dec 10 12 45.5 54.5 References
31-Dec 23 20 53.5 46.5 Ali, Salim. 2002. “The Book of Indian Birds”, Bombay Natural History
Society Bombay.
1-Jan 3 5 37.5 62.5
“Birds” The New Encyclopedia Britannica: Macropedia. 15th Edition.
2-Jan 14 8 63.6 36.4 Chicago, Illinois. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
3-Jan 15 6 71.4 28.6 Burger, J. and M.Gochfled. 1988. Nest site selection by Roseate Terns in
4-Jan 4 5 44.4 55.6 Two Tropical Colonies on Culebra, Puetro Rico. Condor 90: 843 – 851.
5-Jan 11 7 61.1 38.9 Cody, M.L. 1985. Habitat selection in the sylvine Warblers of Western
6-Jan 13 8 61.9 38.1 Europe and North Africa. Page 86 – 129 In: Cody, M.L (Ed.). Habitat
selection in Birds, Academic press, New York.
7-Jan 6 22 21.4 78.6
Collias,N.E. & Collias,E.C. 1984. Nest Building Behaviour. Princeton, New
8-Jan 5 14 26.3 73.7
Jersey : Princeton University Press.
Newsletter for Birdwatchers 47 (3) 2007 43
Johnson, P.N. 1994.Selection and use of nest site by Barn Owls in Urfi, A.J., 2003. Breeding ecology of Birds: Why do some species nest
Norfolk, England. Raptor Res. 28: 149 – 153. singly while others are colonial. Resonance, 2003,8, 22 – 32.
Grimmett,R. and C.Inskipp. 1999. “Birds of the Indian Subcontinent” Oxford Welty, C.J. 1982. The Life of Birds. W.B. Saunders Co. London
University press, New Delhi. Winkler, D.W., and F.h. Sheldow. 1993. Evolution of nest construction in
Hoi,H. Schleicher,B. & Valera,F. 1994. Female mate Choice and nest swallows (Hirundinidae): a molecular phylogenetic prespective.
Desertion in penduline tits, Remiz pendulinus, the importance Nest Proc.Natl.
quality. Animal Behaviour, 48, 743 – 746.
Web Based References
Newton, I. 1995, The Contribution of some recent research on birds to
ecological Understanding. J.Anim. Ecol, 64, 675 – 696. http://”
Sampath, K. and K.Krishnamurthy. 1993. Birds of Pichavaram mangroves http:/ Birds of World/Families?
and the Adjoining costal environs. J.Ecol.Soc. 6: 23 – 28. Passeriformes.htm
Soler,J.J.,Moller,A.P.& Linden,M.1996. Nest building, sexual selection and
parental investment. Evolutionary Ecology.12, 427 – 441.

A Day at Sirumalai in Palni Hills

S. Ashok Kumar
Plot No. 491, Road No. 10, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad – 500 033

The Palani Hills Birdwatchers’ Society had organized the mixed with forested tracts, pepper estates, banana and
2nd South Indian Birdwatcher’s Fair in Gandhigram Rural citrus plantations come into view. The ensemble of barbets
Universtiy, Dindigul from 23rd to 25th February, 2007. During greeted us and their choir floated across the forest,
the Fair, Birdwatching field trips to Athoor dam, Vadakarai resounded and reverberated in the surrounding tranquil
tank, Sirumalai Hills and Gandhigram University Campus valleys as the birds celebrated the advent of yet another
were conducted for the delegates and participants. day. The music concert of these Beethovens of the forest
Our team consisted of Prabhu, Asian Wildlife Foundation, went on till dusk with hardly any respite.
Rahman, Education Officer, W.W.F., A.P. Office, Hyderabad While trekking on a bridle path between forest and coffee
and myself. While travelling in Vaigai Express we sighted plantation, we witnessed a male Asian Paradise-Flycatcher
10 spot billed pelicans, over 200 cattle egrets and 4 grey vigorously patrolling its territory in the coffee plantation while
herons in Chenulpet lake. Large extents of the lake margin a juvenile male Asian Paradise-Flycatcher was lurking in
are invaded by Eichhornia crassipes. the forest on the opposite side. This went on for full one
Palani hills forming the eastern spur of the Western Ghats hour and we had to retreat as dusk was descending.
is divided into Upper Palnis in the West, covering an area of Sirumalai hills and the surrounding areas are rich in bird life
385 sq kms with an altitude of 2200 mts and the Lower and according to Palani Hills Birdwatchers’ Society, more
Palanis covering 1683 sq kms with an altitude of 1600 mts than 250 species have been recorded so far. We chanced
lying below Kodaikanal. Palani hills region is recognized as upon the biggest butterfly of South India, the Southern
a ‘biodiversity hot spot’. Birdwing butterfly. We trekked to Agasthyipuram, the earliest
Sirumalais meaning small hills lie in Lower Palani hills human settlement in the hills and enroute recorded several
located between 10°.07’ – 10°.18’N and 77°.55’ – 78°.12 E species of birds and butterflies such as Chocolate pansy,
with an altitude of 800 mts. The hills are rectangular in outline Common sailor, Glad-eye Bush brown, Common Cerulian,
covering an area of 317 sq kms. The mountain ridge slopes Silverstreak blue, Angled castor, Common Jezebel, Crimson
down North-East on which the only motorable ghat road is rose, Common Bushbrown and Striped Blue tiger.
laid. There are other ridges sloping towards South, South- The following is the systematic list of birds observed in Gandhigram Rural
East and East. Mullupanrimalai, Vellimalai, Kalugumalai and University Campus (G.U.), Athoor Dam (A), Vadakarai Tank (V) and Sirumalai
Madagamalai are the main peaks, Mullapanrimalai being Hills (S).
the highest (1379 mts.). Sattiar, Kalankaluviar and Grebes Podicipedidae
Sirumalaiar are the three rivulets which flow down the hills. Little grebe (V) Tachybaptus ruficollis (Pallas, 1964)
Cormorants Phalacrocoracidae
The vegetation consists of tropical dry deciduous forest type Great Cormorant (V) Phalacrocorax carbo (Linnaeus, 1758)
(Champion, 1936), dry evergreen forests, riparian forests and Darters Anhingidae
thorn forest with thorny thickets. N.E. monsoon brings the Darter (V) Anhinga melanogaster (Pennant, 1969)
bulk of the annual rainfall while the S.W. monsoon brings Herons, Egrets and Ardeidae
sporadic rains. So far 895 floral species belonging to 536 genera
Little egret (V) Egretta garzetta (Linnaeus, 1966)
have been recorded as a result of systematic exploration. Large Egret (V) Casmerodius albus (Linnaeus, 1758)
The dales and valleys on either side of the ghat road are Cattle egret (V) Bubulcus ibis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Grey heron (V) Ardea cinerea (Linnaeus, 1758)
clothed with dense forests bisected by jungle streamlets. Purple heron (V) Ardea purpurea (Linnaeus, 1766)
As we approach Sirumalai Pudur village, coffee plantations Indian Pond-heron (V) Ardeola grayii (Sykes, 1832).
44 Newsletter for Birdwatchers 47 (3) 2007
Storks Ciconiidae Barbets Capitonidae
Painted stork (V) Mycteria leucocephala (Pennant, 1769) Coppersmith barbet (G.U.,A,V,S) Megalaima haemacephala (P.L. Smuller 1776)
Asian Open-bill stork (V) Anastomus oscitans (Boddaert, 1783) White-checked barbet (S) Megalaima viridis (Boddaert, 1783)
White-necked stork (V) Ciconia episcopus (Boddaert, 1783) Great barbet (S) Megalaima virens (Boddaert, 1783)
Geese & Ducks Anatidae Woodpeckers Picidae
Comb duck (V) Sarkidiornis melanotos (Pennant, 1969) Brown-capped Pigmy
Northern Shoveller (V) Anas clypeata (Linnaeus, 1758) woodpecker (S) Dendrocopos nanus (Vigors, 1832)
Common Pochard (V) Aythya ferina (Linnaeus, 1758) Black-shouldered
Spot-billed duck (V) Anas acuta (Linnaeus, 1958/1781) Woodpecker (S) Chrysocolaptes festivus (Boddaert, 1783)
Garganey (V) Anas querquedula (Linnaeus, 1958) Wagtails & Pipits Motacillidae
Eurasian Wigeon (V) Anas penelope (Linnaeus, 1758) Large Pied Wagtail (V, S) Motacilla maderaspatensis (Gmelin, 1789)
Lesser whistling teal (V) Dendrocygna javanica (Horsfield, 1821) Grey wagtail (S) Motacilla cinerea (Tunstall, 1771)
Hawks, eagles, kites etc. Accipitridae Paddyfield Pipit (V) Anthus rufulus (Vieillot, 1818)
Shikra (G.R., S) Accipiter badius (Gmelin, 1788) Cuckoo-shrikes, Campephagidae
Crested serpent eagle (S) Spilornis cheela (Latham, 1790) Minivets etc.
Mountain hawk eagle (S) Spizaetus nipalensis (Hodgson, 1836) Common Woodshrike (S) Tephrodornis pondicerianus (Gmelin, 1789)
Black-shouldered kite (G.U.,S) Elanus caeruleus (Desfontaine, 1789) Long-tailed Minivet (S) Pericrocotus ethologus (Bangs & Phillips 1914)
Brahminy kite (V) Haliastur indus (Boddaert, 1783) Black-headed cuckoo-Shrike
Pheasants, Partridges & Phasianidae (G.U.) Coracina melanoptera (Ruppell, 1839)
Quails Bulbuls, Finchbills Pycnonotidae
Grey Junglefowl (S) Gallus sonneratii (Temminck, 1813) Red-whiskered bulbul (A,S) Pycnonotus jocosus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Grey Francolin (A) Francolinus pondicerianus (Gmelin, 1789) Red-vented bulbul (A,S) Pycnonotus cafer (Linnaeus, 1766)
Rails, Crakes, Moorhens, Rallidae White-browed bulbul (A,V,S) Pycnonotus luteolus (Lesson, 1841)
Ioras, Leafbird, Irenidae
White-breasted Waterhen. (A) Amaurornis phoenicurus (Pennant, 1858)
Common Iora (G.U.) Aegithina tiphia (Linnaeus, 1758)
Purple moorhen (V) Porphyrio porphyrio (Linnaeus, 1758)
Asian Fairy-Bluebird (S) Irena puella (Latham, 1790)
Common coot (V) Fulica atra (Linnaeus, 1758)
Shrikes Laniidae
Jacanas Jacanidae
Bay-backed shrike (G.U.) Lanius vittatus (Valenciennes, 1826)
Peasant-tailed Jacana (V) Hydrophasianus chirurgus (Scopoli, 1786)
Thrushes, Robins etc. Turdinae
Plovers, Lapwings etc. Charadriidae
Indian Robin (G.U.) Saxicoloides fulicata (Linnaeus, 1776)
Red-wattled Lapwing (A, V) Vanellus gregarious (Pallas, 1771)
Black Redstart (V) Phoenicurus ochruros (Gmelin, 1774)
Sandpipers, Snipes etc. Scolopacidae
Oriental Magpie-Robin (V,R,S) Copsychus saularis (Linnaeus, 1758)
Common snipe (V) Gallinago gallinago (Linnaeus, 1758)
Pied Bushchat (S) Saxicola caprata (Linnaeus, 1766)
Common green Shank (V) Tringa nebularia (Gunner, 1767)
Babblers, Barwings etc Timaliinae
Common sandpiper (V) Actitis hypoleucos (Linnaeus, 1758)
White-headed babbler (G.U.) Turdoides affinis (Jerdon, 1847)
Ibisbill, Avocets & Stilts Recurvirostridae
Prinias, Warblers etc Sylviinae
Black-winged atilt (V) Himantopus himantopus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Greenish Leaf-Warbler (S) Phylloscopus trochiloides (Sundevall 1837)
Gulls, Terns etc. Laridae
Flycatchers Muscicapinae
Gull-billed Tern (V) Gelochelidon nilotica (Gmelin, 1789)
Verditer Flycatcher (V, S) Eumyias thalassina (Swainson, 1838)
Pigeons & Doves Columbidae Nilgiri Flycatcher (S) Eumyias albicaudata (Jerdon, 1840)
Spotted dove (S) Streptopelia chinensis (Scopoli, 1786) Monarch & Monarchinae
Emerald dove (A) Chalcophaps indica (Linnaeus, 1758) Paradise – Flycatchers
Parakeets etc Psittacidae Asian Paradise-Flycatcher
Blue-winged parakeet (S) Psittacula columboides (Vigors, 1830) (G.U., A, S) Terpsiphone paradisi (Linnaeus, 1758)
Cuckoos, Malkohas & Cuculidae Sunbirds & Spiderhunters Nectariniidae
Coucals Purple-rumped Sunbird (G.U) Nectarinia zeylonica (Linnaeus, 1766)
Indian plaintive cuckoo (A) Cacomantis passerinus (Vhai, 1797) Purple Sunbird (G.U) Nectarinia asiatica (Latham, 1790)
Pied Crested cuckoo (G.U.) Clamator jacobinus (Boddaert, 1783) Little Spiderhunter (G.U) Arachnothera longirostra (Latham, 1790)
Brainfever Bird (A, G.U) Hierococcyx varius (Vahl, 1797) White-eyes Zosteropidae
Large Greenbilled Malkoha (V) Phaenicophaeus tristis (Lesson, 1830) Oriental White-eye (S) Zosterops palpebrosus (Temminck, 1824)
Greater Coucal (G.U., A, S,) Centropus sinensis (Stephens, 1815) Munias Estrildidae
Asian Koel (G.U, A) Eudynamys scolopacea (Linnaeus 1758) White-throated Munia (V.S.) Lonchura malabarica (Linnaeus, 1758)
Owis Strigidae Spotted Munia (V) Lonchura punctulata (Linnaeus, 1758)
Spotted Owlet (G.U) Athene brama (Temminck, 1821) Starlings & Mynas Sturnidae
Swifts Apodidae Common Myna (G.U) Acridotheres tristis (Linnaeus, 1766)
Alpine swift (S) Tachymarptis melba (Linnaeus, 1758) Orioles Oriolidae
Kingfishers Alcedinidae Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus (Linnaeus, 1758)
White-breasted King-fisher Halcyon smyrnensis (Linnaeus, 1758) (G.U., A, S)
( V, S , G . U . ) Black-beaded Oriole (S) Oriolus xanthornus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Small Blue Kingfisher (A) Alcedo atthis (Linnaeus, 1758) Drongos Dicruridae
Pied kingfisher (V) Lesser Ceryle rudis (Linnaeus, 1758) Black Drongo (S, G.U.) Dicrurus macrocercus (Vieillot, 1817)
Bee-eaters Meropidae Ashy Drongo (S, G.U.) Dicrurus leucophaeus (Vieillot, 1817)
Small Bee-eater (S, V) Merops orientalis (Latham, 1801) White-bellied Drongo (A & S) Dicrurus caerulescens (Linnaeus, 1758)
Blue-tailed Bee-eater (V) Merops philippinus (Linnaeus, 1766) Greater Racket-tailed Dicrurus paradiseus (Linnaeus 1766)
Rollers Coraciidae Drongo (S)
Indian Roller (G.U.) Coracias benghalensis (Linnaeus, 1758) Crows & Treepies, Corvidae
Hoopoes Upupidae Indian Treepie (G.U., S) Dendrocitta formosae (Swinhoe, 1863)
Common hoopoe (V.S.) Upupa epops (Linnaeus, 1758) Jungle Crow (G.U) Corvus macrorhynchos (Wagler, 1827)
Newsletter for Birdwatchers 47 (3) 2007 45

A pilgrimage to Chilika - the ‘Birding Kashi’

A. Shivaprakash, T. Girija and A. Sharath
478, 3rd Cross, 8th Main, Ramakrishna Nagar, 'H' Block, Mysore - 570022

Chilika with the assemblage of marine, brackish and Pulicat and Point Calimere at different times. And also the
freshwater ecosystem is recognized as largest water birds theory that species recorded here has some definite link
congregation location in Indian subcontinent that hosts 43 between south Indian wintering birds, appears to be truthful
species of 1% biogeographically known population (Islam and with the increased population of Pied Avocets Recurvirostra
Rahmani 2005). Totally 52 rivers and rivulets provide fresh avosetta in Chilika and in south Indian wetlands
water augmentation to the brackish bay. Rich diversity and (Balachandran et al 2005, Sahana et al 2007).
density of avifauna is due to the vast size (1100 sq Km),
The pressure on lagoon is immense like encroachment,
variation in salinity, preferred water depths, and rich sediment.
increased siltation, extensive fishing and tourism. Over two
We had planned our birding visits at Barkul, Nalaban Islands, lakh fishermen are depending on the lake's resources for
mudflats of Satpada, New sea mouth and Rajhans Island during their livelihood (CDA 2006). The disturbance to the birds is
13th to 18th December 2006. The itinerary was based on the a common sight due to intensive fishing activities,
locations mentioned in the Final report of Habitat evaluation of recreational disturbance, and the use of mechanized boats.
Chilika lake (Balachandran et al 2005); on the guidance of Dr. The constant disturbance discourages foraging, costing
P.K.Ray, Scientist-in charge, Regional Museum of Natural feeding time and amplified escape activities and drains much
History, Bhubaneswar and Mr. Sathiyaselvam, Research Fellow, of the birds' energy. Eventually, it might result in decreased
Chilika Project, Chandrabani. We have spent 32 hours birding, energy reserves, late arrival/late dispersal to breeding
including 10 hours on board non-mechanized boats and rest grounds, and in the end, reduced reproductive-success
on foot. Observation was made with a Field scope (Geoma (Michael and Kenneth 1984).
65mm x 20) and a pair of binoculars (Pentex 10 x 25 and
An estimated one lakh tourists visit the lake every year (CDA
Tasco 8 x 30).
2006). Many boatmen have equipped the small tourist boats
Barkul shoreline forms western part of lake, attracts good with high wattage loud-speakers with music system;
number of waders. Nalabana Island is situated in the Central producing much noise is a common sight. Though plastic is
Sector of the lake and is said to be hosting 75% of the total banned one can see a lot of floating wrappers in the lake,
bird population wintering in Chilika. Though large flocks of discarded by the tourists. It is sickening to watch, fishes
birds scatter in many parts of the Lake, the major congregation being killed by metal blades of crudely mechanized boats.
of diverse species was in and around Nalabana Island. Small population of Irrawaddy dolphins Orcaella brevirostris
Exposed mudflats of Satpada provide foraging ground for large found in the outer channel are more vulnerable. Though Chilika
congregation of waders. Gregarious Gulls and Terns gallery Development Authority has rejuvenated the lake extraordinarily
is displayed in the new sea mouth, opened up in the outer well, policing and implementation of many defined regulations,
channel recently to provide necessary salinity to Chilika. are falling short of standard due to (local as well as visiting)
public’s apathy.
Our plan of staying entire day and night at Nalaban Islands
based on "A birdwatchers' guide to India" (Krys and Raj 2001) With all these hassles, the living lagoon is at its best
was later modified due to Orissa Forest Department's throughout the year compared to any other wetland in India
restrictions on visitors. The entry of mechanized boats into (Sathiyaselvam Pers. Com.) due to its uniqueness. And of
the Nalaban Islands zone is strictly restricted. The island zone course, has an added advantage of the degradation of many
is marked with red polls erected all around that are visible from wintering sites in southern sojourn these birds were earlier
a quite distance indicating the protected zone. Moreover, entry dependent.
to the lake is prohibited to tourists and is strictly enforced.
Some noteworthy sightings are as follows;
This measure is safeguarding the interests of avifauna and its
habitat. With a rowing boat and a field scope, one can watch d In all, 102 identified bird species and a few un-identified
numerous birds with ease. The congregation of waterfowl is Snipes and Larger Gulls
amazing and runs into a few thousands. d A solitary Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus in the
south-east waters of Nalaban and a Goliath Heron Ardea
The waders recorded here, are almost similar to those in
goliath at northern tip of Nalaban
Pulicat Lake and Point Calimere. The wader's congregation
is simply unimaginable. It is interesting, that the BNHS d Huge flocks(5 -10K) of Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope,
report (Balachandran et al 2005) has concluded that within Gadwall A. strepera, Northern Pintail A. acuta, Northern
the same wintering season the same population of birds Shoveller A. clypeata, and Ferruginous Pochard Aythya
utilise three major water bodies of eastern coast - Chilika, nyroca
46 Newsletter for Birdwatchers 47 (3) 2007
d Smaller flocks(100 -1K) of Common Pochard Aythya Footnote: Back from wonderful birding, we came across a
ferina, Red crested Pochard Rhodonessa rufina, bad news of the death of birds from Chilika (Indian Green
Garganey Anas querquedula, Cotton Teal Nettapus File, 2006). The paper clipping of published article of the Asian
coromandelianus, Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa, Age newspaper dated 12-12-2006 was reprinted in the
Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius and Little Stint December issue of Indian Green File. The report said, out of
Calidris minuta dead 82 birds, 69 were Pintails, rest were Shovellers, Gadwals,
d Smaller flocks(<100) of Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus Bar-headed Goose and Sea eagles; and 277 birds were
ruber (Eastern part of Nalaban Island), Spot-billed Pelican reportedly sick.
Pelecanus philippensis, Bar-headed Goose Anser Acknowledgement
indicus, Ruddy Shelduck Tadoma ferruginea, Common
Teal Anas crecca, Spot billed Duck A. poecilorhyncha, We are indebted to Dr P.K.Ray, Scientist-in charge, Regional
Lesser Whistling Teal Dendrocygna javanica, Common Museum of Natural History, Bhubaneswar and Mr.
Red Shank Tringa totanus, Pacific Golden Plover Pluvialis Sathiyaselvam, Research Fellow, Chilika Project, Chandrabani
fulva, Kentish Plover Charadrius alexandrinus, Temmink's for guidance. And we are grateful to Kum. Vijayalaxmi and
Stint Calidris temminckii, Sanderling Calidris alba, Brown Kishendas.K.R, Mysore, for their logistic support.
headed Gull Larus brunnicephalus, and Whiskered Tern References
Chlidonias hybridus Balachandarn.S, Rahmani.A.R and Sathiyaselvam.P. 2005. Final report
d Smaller nos. of (<10) of Asian Open-bill Anastomus of Habitat evaluation of Chilika Lake with special reference to birds
oscitans, Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata, Common as bio-indicators. Bombay Natural History Society
Green Shank Tringa nebularia, Ruff Philomachus pugnax, CDA 2006: Chilika a living lagoon. A booklet prepared and circulated by
Chilika Development Authority, Bhubaneswar.
Caspian Tern Sterna caspia, Indian River Tern S. aurantia,
Islam, M.Z. and A.R. Rahmani. 2005. Important Bird Areas in India: Priority
Little Tern S. albifrons, White-winged Tern C. leucopterus, sites for conservation. Mumbai: Indian Bird Conservation Network:
and Gull billed Tern Gelochelidon nilotica Bombay Natural History Society and BirdLife International (UK). Pp.
d Few Individuals like Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris, Broad 574-575.
billed Sandpiper Limicola falcinellus, and Citrine Wagtail Krys Kazmierczak and Raj Singh 2001. A Birdwatchers' guide to India,
Motacilla.c.citreola Oxford University press, New Delhi.
Michael R. Miller, Kenneth J. Reinecke. Nov., 1984. Proper Expression of
d Raptors like W hite bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus
Metabolizable Energy in Avian Energetics. The Condor, Vol. 86, No.
leucogaster (commoner), Pallas Fish Eagle H. 4, pp. 396-400
leucoryphus (Rajhans Island) Sahana.M, Kishen Das.K.R and Tanuja.D.H 2007. Occurrence of Pied
d New terrestrial bird for us -Bank Myna Acridotheres Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta near Mysore, Karnataka. Newsletter
ginginianus, Asian Pied Sterling Sturnus contra for Birdwatchers, Vol 43(1), Pp 14-15
(commoner) Indian Green File, No. 228, December, 2006. Published by Centre for
Science & environment, New Delhi. Page 24.


AN ETHICAL PERSPECTIVE AND PREVENTION OF BIRD poultry that “creepeth upon the Earth”, it is a rare case of
FLU. Lt. Gen. (Retd.) BALJIT SINGH, House 219, Sector 16-A, convergence of interests of man and bird against one common
Chandigarh – 160 015 Ph. 2770619 foe. Viewing from this moral high ground the focus of all over
efforts must be to contain the spread, to isolate the infected
The Bible tells us : “And God said, let us make man in our
host organisms and ultimately in the long run neutralize
image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the
altogether the H5N1 virus. Both the print and the visual media
fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air and over the cattle,
have the onerous task to publish thoroughly researched and
and over all the Earth, and over every creeping thing that
balanced reports which are informative and motivating but not
creepeth upon the Earth.”
So in the very scheme of evolution man was conceived as the
primary and dominant species. Explicit with that privileged As of now, the primary and exclusive host of the H5N1 virus are
status comes man’s obligation of dominion implying watch a few species of wild waterfowl and perhaps the entire range of
and ward over the weaker creatures that inhabit his planet. For, domesticated poultry birds though so far only chicken and turkey
God did create man "in our image, after our likeness", which are reported infected. There is no unanimity among the scientist
presupposed that he would be just and compassionate. And community yet on the primary source of this virus. When it first
in the instant case where a hitherto unchartered virus H5N1 manifested in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Thailand in
has raised its ugly head with lethal potential both to man and 2001-2003 it was surmised that the primary host are the poultry
two of the meekest of his wards namely, "the fowl of the air" and birds. Quite logically this led to the wholesale culling of about
Newsletter for Birdwatchers 47 (3) 2007 47
three million birds in these countries. Even when in 2004 a few of vision and management skills of the government, at the
dead species of the migratory wild water fowl in their breeding Centre and State.
areas in China, Kazakhstan and Siberia also tested positive, Concurrently, the migratory and resident water fowl
the weight of opinion still maintained that the vector was the assemblages in the Country will also need monitoring on war-
domestic poultry and not the free ranging wild birds. footing. Fortunately these sites are all listed out in the National
Be that as it may, the fact of the matter is that as of now both the Directory of Wetlands and they number just 145. For instance
wild waterfowl and the domestic poultry are the vectors. When in Punjab there are three sites only (Ropar, Harike and Kanjli),
this non-discriminating virus enters the host it is of the low two in Haryana (Sultanpur and Bhindawas), three in Himachal
pathogen grade which is non-lethal. But once transmitted, the (Pong, Renuka and Govindsagar) and just one in UT
virus begins to mutate and attains snow-balling dimensions. Chandigarh, the Sukhna Lake. Admittedly, there will be many
That is the stage that it becomes a killer and the infected bird smaller water-bodies dotting the country-side but for the present
dies within 2 to 3 days. Now where wild bird assemblages are they need not be put under the scanner.
concerned fortunately they remain fairly scattered and the virus It might be mentioned here that on the face of it, the threat from
transmission process is comparatively of the lower scale. And migratory Waterfowl as vectors of H5N1 to India, may be of low
in the scheme of Nature, there are no recorded cases where grade. This becomes evident when we look at the migratory
an entire species has been wiped out by an epidemic. pattern of the Bar-headed goose (one of the identified vectors)
Generally, up to 70 percent of the virus host species may perish already mapped out by the wildlife department of the Aligarh
and the remainder in all probability will develop immunity as Muslim University through an on-going project, using telemetry
creatures in the wild are apparently better equipped to do so. tools. The time taken by most birds to reach their wintering
Hopefully and over a long period of time the subject species grounds in India can vary from 10 to 12 days inclusive of time
will regain its optimum population levels. spent on the stop-over sites enroute. Most infected birds will
On the other hand where commercial poultry industry is perish in migration before entering India. But healthy birds
concerned, the birds live check by jowl and the virus which get infected at the last stop-over before India, may well
transmission process is like an inferno. At that stage the succeed in bringing the virus.
probability of infection spreading to human beings is genuine No strategy to combat the H5N1 virus will succeed unless we
and of a high order. Fortunately so far, there is no proven case also have in place effective and adequate preventive and
of transmission of the virus from man to man. Nevertheless curative medicine. Fortunately, Tamiflu vaccine is claimed to
individual human beings will be at risk of infection either through be a positive safeguard where humans are concerned. But the
the aerosol medium (breathing) or through ingestion of an fight against the bird flu will be inconclusive until a veterinary
infected bird or by touch. The last two risks can be easily variant of Tamiflu is developed on war-footing to provide
countered by avoiding poultry from diet for a short while and immunity to poultry. This is where the print and visual media
this is where media can again play a positive role by arousing are best suited to spread awareness among poultry keepers
consciousness of all segments of the society. and pet owners to immunize the birds with same commitment
As for the aerosol risk, here the State will have the dominant as we do for infants against polio and small pox.
role. All the commercial poultry farms and small scale poultry Central to the formulation of plans to combat the crisis should
keepers and even pigeon fanciers will have to be placed under be the fact that the bird was the first and still remains the most
periodic and regular surveillance checks by qualified vets. predominant prey of the virus. At this juncture it is the bird which
Infected units will have to be shut down and decontaminated. is beleaguered and it deserves man’s empathy much more
The industry may even have to be compensated for loss of than is evident at the moment. Given the common resolve,
revenue. The common man will have to be advised on the effective management strategies will emerge sooner than later.
safe buffer-zone to be maintained from all such facilities And at the end of it all we would have contained and ultimately
and where that is not feasible, to wear face and breathing vanquished the danger of bird flu pandemic both to humankind
masks. Even though the counter measures may appear and to the birds, one of man’s dominos.
elementary, their rigid implementation will test out the measure ddd

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48 Newsletter for Birdwatchers 47 (3) 2007
PREVALENCE OF SOME MYTHOLOGICAL BELIEFS AMONG 12. Nest towards the south - Epidemic and battle among local
CROW (CORVUS Sp.). HIREN SONI, ASHOK and RITA PATEL, 13. Nest on dome of temple, old fort, crematorium or flat ground
Institute of Integrated Study & Research in Biotechnology & - Heavy drought, deadly epidemics, robbery and anarchy.
Allied Sciences (ARIBAS), ADIT Campus, New Vidyanagar - 14. Nest on dead or dry tree - Political dilemma, dispute among
388 121 (Gujarat) E-mail: baronets, and large-scale destruction of crops due to heavy
In the present technocrat world, still some cryptic mythologies flood.
in scriptures and Vedas are prevalent among some rural 15. Crow gives frequent calls in front of the door – Brings prestige
communities of Gujarat. They were authoured by our ancestors and wealth to the owner of that house.
based on their own experience. Such mythological beliefs are 16. Crow sits on top of the front door with rigorous flapping -
directly or indirectly connected with different types of rites, rituals, House will be damaged by fire within a week.
taboos and traditions of tribesmen in the form of various 17. Crow sits on latch or hanging garland of the door and call
astrological paradigms, folklores, proverbs and quotable erratically with sideways movement of its body - Owner of
quotes in ancient literature. In prehistoric times, our Kings and that house and his neighboring person will be wealthier
Baronets used to take the guidance of priests to predict and within a short period.
prepare for the natural calamities such as cyclones, famines,
Thus behaviour, calls, display, feeding patterns, nesting
flood and heavy rainfalls. They were often referred to as
locations and other allied activities of crows form an integral
“Forecasting of Future”. During such times, various types of
part in lives of many village inhabitants of Gujarat State. Similar
prophecies were inferred by deciphering various birdcalls, their
types of literature hunt associated with field trials on calling
behaviour, nesting location and feeding patterns. According to
patterns, behaviour, nesting sites, and feeding practices in other
some mythological beliefs, crows act as a good forecaster
birds also would be an additional adage and will be a good
among birds, and are also indicators of good or bad omens
subject for methodical evaluation of these beliefs in future.
(Jadav 2004). Some of the well-known inferences from various
proverbs are as follows: Reference
Jadav, J. (2004). Crows: The Forecasters of Future. In: The Pearls of
1. A crow builds its nest on eastern side of a tree, on top Folklore. Gujarat Samachar (18th July 2004), Sunday Supplement. P. 3.
branch in the month of May - Heavy rainfall, good quality of
crop, and a good omen for any religious ceremony.
2. Nest on western side of a tree - Better rain and better
crop-yield, but grave epidemics.
3. Nest on top canopy of a tree - Moderate rain.
4. Nest in middle canopy of a tree - Insufficient rainfall and
scarcity of water.
5. Nest on north or north-west side of a tree – Overall good year.
6. Crows search for food in dust instead of open grounds and
garbage - Hike in prices of cereals, crops, grains and other
7. Crow gives harsh calls from a dry tree – Insufficient rain
and scarcity of water.
8. Nest on south-east corner of a tree - Famine, starvation,
water crisis, food shortage, and theft of eatables and other
common commodities.
9. Nest on the stem of a tree instead of its branch - Scanty
rain, paucity of water, spreading of some contagious
disease and theft of livelihood goods.
10. Nest on north-west corner of a tree - Possibility of cyclones, Distribution map of Oriental Darter. Dot sizes are proportional to
hurricanes and thunderstorms, increase in population of the maximum species counts between 1997-2001.
rodents in houses and crop-fields, scarcity of food, fodder,
Source: Numbers and distribution of waterbirds and wetlands
fuelwood and fiber.
in the Asia-Pacific region, Results of the Asian Waterbird
11. Nest on south-east corner of a tree - Late arrival of monsoon Census : 1997-2001. Wetland International Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
with cyclones and storms with low rainfall, famine, robbery
and mass-scale war. Cover: Jungle Myna (Acridotheres fuscus). Probably every
Indian knows either one or other of our two common mynas. Jungle
Address for Correspondence :
mynas perch in pairs or trios on their favorite trees or walk along the
Newsletter for Birdwatchers ground with rapid determined steps, stopping occasionally to preen
No 10, Sirur Park B Street, Seshadripuram, or bob heads stiffly to utter warning notes. Throughout the day,
Bangalore 560 020, India. Tel. 080 2356 1142, 2346 4682 mynas maintain a varied rollick of high pitched grackles or pleasant
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resentment or anguish. Being omnivores they feed on grubs, fruits,
Printed and Published bi-monthly by S. Sridhar at grains, crumbs and morsels. They nest in tree holes, cracks in
Navbharath Enterprises, Seshadripuram, Bangalore - 560 020, India. walls, chimneys and thatched roofs. Mynas at times are branded as
For Private Circulation Only. reckless usurpers of the nests of other birds. Photo: S. Shreyas